Last Thursday was a historical day when the NSW and ACT Governments decided to ban greyhound racing – the first in Australia to do so. Despite our advocacy efforts, it was a day that I wasn’t sure that I would see during my time at RSPCA ACT. We certainly didn’t think that NSW would be the first state to ban this commercial activity in the country.
Most people will not realise that only a few countries in the world permit commercial greyhound racing. In the United States, 40 of 50 states have banned it with active racing now only in five states. Growing up in the US, I never met a greyhound myself until I moved to Australia and have since discovered what lovely dogs they are.
Since the announcement last week the conversation has moved to the industry fighting the bans, and the rescue efforts of saving these dogs that were perhaps worth a lot of money to their trainers. I say ‘perhaps’ because a Greyhounds Australasia document that came out as part of the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into Greyhound Racing had estimated that possibly up to 94% of the dogs bred in this country every year where euthanased. The NSW report believed it was about 50% in their State.
Locally, we used publically available documents to estimate that about 150 dogs belonging to 24 identified ACT based trainers had raced over the last five years. However as of last year, we only knew of 12 local trainers. Using these stats we can assume that the number of active racing dogs in the ACT at the moment would likely be considerably less than that.
As we advocated the ban to greyhound racing in the ACT over the last year or so, we believed that the majority of these dogs would be raced in nearby NSW tracks if a ban were to occur here. Furthermore, we believed we had the capacity and resources to facilitate the rehoming of those that didn’t continue to race. However, the bold decision by the NSW government on Thursday took us all by surprise. We must now work as a community and position ourselves to not only rehome the hundred or so possibly unwanted dogs in the ACT, but thousands across the border too.
While the RSPCA did not breed these animals or cause them harm, some people may think it’s our sole responsibility to rehome them. Not only is this impossible because of our own facility constraints, but it fails to recognise that this is a community problem to solve. Having said that, RSPCA ACT will do everything we can to facilitate the rehoming of as many greyhounds as possible.
The CEOs from the RSPCA member societies across the country have already spoken about a strategy moving forward. The countdown is on, and we now have approximately 12 months before these bans potentially come into place. What we hope this notice period does for the industry is to significantly reduce the number of litters that are being bred and to break the vicious annual cycle of mass scale euthanasia.
While I write this just a few days after the announcement of the bans, the greyhound industry does not want this profitable ‘business’ to end, and are now mounting a full-scale effort to fight these decisions in NSW and the ACT.
We need your help!
First, if you believe that the ACT Government made the right decision to ban greyhound racing, shown our Ministers your support. Send emails of encouragement to:
- Chief Minister Andrew Barr - BARR@act.gov.au
- Animal Welfare Minister Meegan Fitzharris - FITZHARRIS@act.gov.au
- Racing & Gaming Minister Mick Gentleman GENTLEMAN@act.gov.au
Furthermore, if you want to help us rehome the most greyhounds possible, please get involved in the following ways:
- Sign up as foster carers;
- Promoting why greyhounds make fantastic pets; and
- Consider adopting them as new family members.
The announcement to ban greyhound racing in the ACT and NSW last Thursday was a beautiful day, but the fight is not over, and we have a lot of work to do together. Please do your part to help us, “Save the Greys”!